LIFE SENTENCE: Jake Brook has permanent brain damage and the intellectual capacity of a young child following the New Years assault in Dorrigo in 2010.
LIFE SENTENCE: Jake Brook has permanent brain damage and the intellectual capacity of a young child following the New Years assault in Dorrigo in 2010.

Mother says her son’s life is ruined as accused walks free

ON DAYS where she feels like giving up, one thing keeps Liz Brook going.

She believes her family has been sentenced to a life of misery but no one has been held responsible.

She's determined to stop others from suffering the same injustice.

Dallas Kahl, a local Dorrigo man, was arrested the morning Jake Brook was fighting for his life at the Coffs Harbour Hospital.

In early 2011, a jury found him guilty of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm.

He was later sentenced to the standard five years jail with a

non-parole period of three years.

During the same period, the Criminal Court of Appeal was considering whether the offence required foresight of grievous bodily harm to establish recklessness.

Kahl's lawyers appealed his sentence and he was granted bail while awaiting a retrial.

New legislation, which required the prosecution to prove that when the defendant committed the act, they foresaw as a possible consequence of their actions, actual bodily harm, passed through New South Wales' Parliament in June last year.

At the time, Attorney General Greg Smith hoped the changes would "close a significant gap in the prosecution of offences involving physical harm", most commonly when "a single punch (causing) a victim to fall and strike his or her head on the footpath (results) in serious brain injury".

Along with the devastating consequences "one punch" can have on the victim's life, Liz wants the community to understand the impact it has on an entire family.

Jake requires 24-hour care and the family relies on fundraisers and donations to provide the support he needs.

His 19-year-old sister, who was once his dear friend, is now subjected to tirades of abuse on an almost daily basis.

Liz wishes she could "split herself in two" and grieves over the fact that in some of the most precious years of her daughter's life, she simply "couldn't be there".

"People need to know that this is what can happen from one punch...if you throw a stone into a river it causes a ripple effect," she said.

"We have lost our Jake - sometimes, we see glimpses of Jake in there but the reality is he will never be able to do the things he wanted to do.

"He had a whole life ahead of him and now he has to live in a world of hurt that none of us could have ever imagined."

Kahl returned to the Coffs Harbour District Court this week and was found not guilty.

Liz believes the current legislation surrounding the One Punch Can Kill campaign needs reviewing and those who are found guilty should be subject to harder jail sentences.

"The law needs to start to look after the victims so that people understand they can't get away with even one punch because the reality is the victim can end up like Jake, or dead," she said.

"If someone can ruin someone's life and get a slap on the wrist, something is not right."

Liz Brook is thankful for every day she spends with her son Jake, who is taking long steps in his recovery from head injuries.
Liz Brook is thankful for every day she spends with her son Jake, who is taking long steps in his recovery from head injuries. The Coffs Coast Advocate

Timeline

January 1, 2010

Jake Brook falls and hits his head in the main street of Dorrigo. He is rushed to hospital in a critical condition.

In the next 24 hours he is pronounced clinically dead and resuscitated on two occasions.

Police arrest Dorrigo man Dallas Kahl and charge him with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm.

April, 2011

A jury finds Kahl guilty. He is bailed until his sentence date.

The Criminal Court of appeal is considering whether the offence Kahl was charged with requires the foresight of grievous bodily harm to establish recklessness.

September, 2011

Kahl is sentenced to five years jail with a non-parole period of three years. His lawyers successfully launch an appeal.

June 2012

Legislation passes through NSW Parliament requiring the prosecution to prove that when the defendant committed the act, they foresaw as a possible consequence of their actions, actual bodily harm.

April, 2013

Dallas Kahl returns to the Coffs Harbour District Court and is found not guilty of the offence.



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